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Instagram – What’s yours is mine…

Social media screenshot. Source: Daniel Pavlic.

Social media screenshot. Source: Daniel Pavlic.

Here on Mindboggled, we’ve spoken about Facebook and the woes of privacy issues previously, but let’s take a moment to discuss Facebook’s newly acquired little sister, Instagram.

Developed in 2010 as a photo sharing app on both iOS and Android platforms, Instagram quickly acquired an astonishingly large user base of 100 million by September 2012. In April 2012, Facebook made a play and purchased Instagram (and its 13 employees) for 1 billion dollars (the New York Times est. in 1851 is currently worth 50 million dollars less).

Last December, the app came under some heavy fire when it made an apparent play at stripping users of their right to own their images. By amending the privacy policy Instagram reserved the right to the right to own, distribute and sell any image uploaded to the app without the users consent, summed up in the following excerpt:

You agree that a business or other entity may pay us to display your username, likeness, photos . . . and/or actions you take, in connection with paid or sponsored content or promotions, without any compensation to you.

However, due to large amounts of public and social media pressure, Instagram quickly denied claims of trying to commandeer users’ rights to their intellectual property and thus promptly made another amendment to its privacy policy, stating that they may amend and change the privacy policy and terms and conditions at any given moment.

Recently in Sweden, an Instagram account amassing approximately 7000 followers was created to identify local students engaging in promiscuous activities in the Gothenburg area. More than 200 pictures of boys and girls were uploaded to the account, according to Swedish news outlet The Local. After the Instagram account was disabled, a Facebook group was set up positing rumors about the alleged creator of the Instagram account. The Facebook group accused a 17 year old girl of creating the Instagram account and encouraged a student rally at the girl’s school. Hundreds of students turned up to the rally and approximately 27 students were arrested by local police.

This notion of social media users being at the mercy of social media giants are becoming increasing present in our societies. How much of ourselves do we own when we freely give away facets of our lives to social media giants such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram? If we upload a photo of ourselves at a café in Brunswick, is that café legally allowed to print and post that image without our consent if we freely upload it to social media?

In the digital age, do we retain any ownership of our digital self?

One thought on “Instagram – What’s yours is mine…

  1. Heres an e-mail i just received from Instagram:


    Our community has grown by many millions of people since we wrote our original Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. As we announced in December, we have updated our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. These policies also now take into account the feedback we received from the Instagram Community. We’re emailing you to remind you that, as we announced last month, these updated policies will be in effect as of January 19th, 2013.

    You can read our blog post that highlights some of the key updates. And remember, these updates don’t change the fact that you own your photos that you post on Instagram, and our privacy controls work just as they did before.

    Thank you,
    The Instagram Team

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